"I hope you know all the beauty of the cosmos is kissing you."

What a wonderful thing to read as I’m falling asleep

I don’t think I’ve ever been told that I have my head in the clouds or that I’m a hopeless romantic stumbling through life.  My life is based in fact and argument.  I look for proofs and ultimate explanations and search for clearer, reasonable, simple and sensible explanations for the observations we see in the world. 

I had a very rewarding client call last night.  I don’t make a lot of money consulting in the evenings, but it’s important to me to help people with their computers.  I see my role as setting up a stable base for them.  Get the basics right, show the people how the basics work, give them some simple rules to help keep them safe.  My ultimate reward is that the network is cleaner and safer, we all get less spam and I don’t kill myself going back over and over again to fix the same simple problems. 

It’s not pretty or glamorous.  It’s utilitarian, repetitive and hopefully useful in the long haul.  It’s very much part of the man that I am. 

So I thought last night about one of those pastimes that has brought me so much joy over the years.  I look up to the sky and I see twinkling stars.  They look beautiful all to themselves, yes.  I know, thanks to the incredible advances in knowledge and he amazing powerful tools such as the Hubble Space Telescope, that those very stars above me are not merely points of light, but vibrant and powerful suns which may be very much like or perhaps very unlike our very own sun.  Indeed, some of the stars that you see are not merely individual suns, but a pair of stars circling each other or dozens, hundreds or even millions of stars clustered together or billions of stars in a distinct galaxy all on their own. 

My world of fact and theory talks about our present situation.  We live on a rock that revolves around a single, nondescript yellow star someplace in the middle of one of the spiral arms of a very ordinary spiral galaxy.  Our star is somewhere around half finished with it’s life, we’re guessing it’ll last another 5 billion years or so when it will turn red and expand greatly.  It’s a long, long way to travel to get to the nearest star, and it doesn’t likely have a planet like Earth revolving around it.  In fact, the nearest earth-like planet I can think of is 15 light-years away orbiting the star Gliese 876.  There’s another one closer to the earth’s size named COROT-7b, but it’s 490 light years distant.  And just to get there means we have to run the risk of massive, exploded stars filled with lethal radiation, or the hyper-energetic formation as gas and dust is crushed into a ball and the hydrogen ignites into a bright new star.

Ahh, romance in the skies of other planets circling stars we number.  Can’t you just feel the passion in the skies?

And then my mind turns to a talk I heard from Bob McDonald of Quirks and Quarks.  Space is dangerous and the earth is the only place we know that won’t kill you.  Imagine, you can go outside and not die instantly.  No space suit required.  No fear of lethal radiation.  Plenty of air for the breathing.

And I hope you, like me, have taken a few moments to enjoy the beauty that comes hand in hand with cold, hard facts.  This post will be very different if you just read it as opposed to looking at the photos included.

The beauty of the cosmos indeed is kissing you.  And I embrace it willingly in return.